Scotland public audit committee urges tighter control of free care

A Scottish public spending watchdog has called for more effective monitoring of the costs of free personal and nursing care to authorities.

In a report, the public audit committee said the Scottish government did not have enough information on costs, making it difficult to predict how much funding was needed in future.

While the government has pledged an additional £40m for the scheme, the committee warned that demographic change and inflation could influence costs.

The committee urged the government to produce figures on the funding it intended to make available in 2010-11 as soon as possible.

It also raised concerns over variations in free personal and nursing care services across the country due to a “lack of clarity” in the original legislation and consequent guidance. The committee found some councils had been charging for the preparation of meals but others provided this free of charge.

Hugh Henry MSP, the committee’s convenor said everyone assessed as requiring free personal and nursing care should receive a “consistent level of care and support, regardless of where they live in Scotland”.

He added that the committee also wanted people to have greater clarity about their entitlements.

The committee’s report followed reviews of free personal and nursing care by auditor general Robert Black, and Lord Sutherland.

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